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Branson: Behind the Mask [Hardcover]

Tom Bower
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
RRP: 20.00
Price: 11.52 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

27 Jan 2014

The image remains pristine: a charismatic high-school dropout turned billionaire, whose stratospheric rise and daring exploits have won him millions of enduring admirers and made him a model for aspiring entrepreneurs throughout the world.

But is this story still credible? Over the last decade, has Branson matched the expectations perpetuated by Virgin's relentless publicity machine? Or have we all been seduced by a brilliant showman?

In his most explosive book to date, Tom Bower, bestselling biographer of Simon Cowell, Bernie Ecclestone, Conrad Black and Robert Maxwell, dares to explore the reality of the Branson empire. In doing so, he unravels the gripping story of his recent activities - from the astonishing success of mobile phones to his troubled airlines and his long delayed plan to send multimillionaires into space - and asks whether he really remains Britain's heroic buccaneer.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber (27 Jan 2014)
  • ISBN-10: 0571297099
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571297092
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 60,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


I think all journalists would benefit from reading Branson: Behind the Mask... Bower paints Branson as a showman who often fails to live up to his promises. (Roy Greenslade Guardian)

The book is subtitled Behind the Mask. Like in The Wizard of Oz, Bower is suggesting that behind the mask is nothing but a flim-flam merchant selling fantasies. (Nicholas Blincoe Daily Telegraph)

Nuggets of pure gold from original reporting. (Dominic O'Connell Sunday Times)

Book Description

Have the triumphs of Richard Branson, Britain's most popular and most publicity-seeking businessman, turned to dust over the last decade?

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb! 2 Oct 2001
There is part of me that is upset at the details revealed in this book (like finding out that Father Christmas isn't real!) but there is also a part that finally understands why the daily commute into London with Virgin trains is such a pain!
Having read "Losing my viginity", "The Virgin King" and "Dirty Tricks", it was nice to see some balance added to the Richard Branson myth! The authorised books obviously record the story from Richard's perspective and Tom Bower delves behind the hyperbole to uncover an fascinating view of the Virgin empire.
I was already a fan of Tom Bower's work - once again he has produced a highly readable, interesting book. Superb!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling 31 Jan 2014
Just bought the new Branson biography and I'm half-way through. So far, it's a fascinating page-turner packed with inside detail on the real manoeuvres that went on behind the scenes of well-known events. It's actually quite thrilling to ride along with Branson as he skates through billion-dollar deals by the seat of his pants!

This is really a sequel to Bower's first biography, so some of the background details of Branson's early career are referred to in brief detail and I'm not sure I would have made a lot of sense of them if I hadn't read the first one. But I'm not sure that matters - the focus here is on the rollercoaster ride of the last ten years or so and it does a great job of balancing the financial detail of his business dealings against the human drama to give you an insight into the real man, behind the slick marketing image.

Thoroughly recommended!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Negative? 6 Aug 2005
By A Customer
I found this book thoroughly entertaining to read, however I was slightly disappointed in the rather negative tone of the book. Bower appears to be an excellent author but it seems that at times he revels in the failures of Branson.
I am not saying that he should glorify the man, but perhaps if the notice of Bransons' writ was not included until the end, people would not go into reading the book with a relatively negative mindset.
An excellent book all the same, one worth recommending to anyone even marginally interested in the Virgin empire, entrepreneurship or business in general.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deflating the Branson hype 12 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed Bower's first book on Branson and often wondered where things would go after Branson seemed to panic when it looked like he had lost the West Coast rail franchise. The book answers or at least speculates on many of the answers including Branson's failed entry into Formula 1 and the ever-running saga of Branson's long awaited, and seemingly unlikely attempts to get a craft into sub orbit for a few minutes whilst still taking bookings and huge sums of money from aspiring spacemen ....Bowrer's legal team were undoubtedly busy checking this book over . Would highly reccomend as it makes a fascinating read.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is an excellent book to read if you want an alternative profile of RB rather than accepting the one portrayed in the popular media. Amazing detail of conversations and Virgin businesses.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gives you Stereo Vision 17 Oct 2009
I read this book and found it informative, well researched and very readable. Im sure that Branson isnt an angel but the reason I liked this book is because it gives you the alternative picture of the man as against the media image created by the PR and spin machine. When you have read this book then you can judge the man from a more informed perspective.
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32 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Factual and damning at the same time 6 Nov 2003
By Darren Simons TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
When I ordered this book I didn't realise it wasn't the official biography and within a few pages I'd decided this book was just an indictment of one of Britain's best loved businessmen by an author in essence jealous of Branson's success, feeling that he'd cheated to get to the top. My conclusion when I'd finished the book was that this book could have been so much better had the author stuck to fact and not opinion.
There's no doubt this book is well researched - I'm tempted to suggest that since I haven't heard of much in the way of legal action by Branson following its publication, its content is probably highly accurate (it's even got a very negative comment on the book by Branson himself on the back cover). In fact, from a content point of view I found it a very interesting book and a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining read. In particular, I was fascinated by the way Branson juggled his different ventures throughout this history of the Virgin brand.
What I was not so keen on however was the way in which the author used every opportunity he could in the book to draw conclusions that each event showed another reason why Branson was a cheat, a sulk, a bully, and a hypocrite. I found this rather sad as I felt it showed that strange British phenomenon of trying to knock down success stories of people who have made it. The world of business is not a nice place, to believe that any successful business is whiter than white is churlish - in some ways, the book provides a great introduction to how important brand marketing is, and that is something even the author acknowledges Branson is superb at.
Would I recommend this book? definitely, but be warned, there is a lot of opinion there which I don't really feel is warranted.
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting & worrying 25 Feb 2004
By DMZ92
i found this book very interesting & very shocking. i didn't know much about branson other than the usual hype but i certainly didn't expect this cutting biography. if this book is factually true (which i am inclined to trust), then it goes to show that big business requires dishonesty, showmanship & complete exploitation of unfairness. for someone who nearly approached branson during the early 90's on a media business plan i am somewhat glad i didn't!! this book is less an adventurous read on a glamourous & exciting lifestyle & more about the realities of business. it doesn't paint branson in a good personable light, but it does indirectly credit him with the ability to become rich. read the book if you're interested in becoming a self-made multi-millionaire, don't read it if you're expecting the glamourous lifestyles of the rich & famous.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest Trading?
Tom Bower is always thorough detailed and interesting and this most recent work retains and maintains these qualities. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Trumpeter
1.0 out of 5 stars Dire!
Unless you have a trainspotter or even rocket spotter mentality, with a fascination with minute detail, I suggest you give this one a miss. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mr. M. Conner
2.0 out of 5 stars Behind The Demolition Job
Not knowing the author but a great fan of Richard Branson, I bought this book with great anticipation. The opening paragraphs did not disappoint. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Romeo S. Sia
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm surprised Branson hasn't had this book pulled by now
Or maybe he has (I bought it a long time ago, only just got round to writing a review). If, like me, you'd always thought there was something dodgy about Richard Branson, this book... Read more
Published 3 months ago by xmfclick
3.0 out of 5 stars Company politics
A startling account. I only gave it 3 stars because it could have been much better organised and it's a little turgid in places. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Geoffrey
5.0 out of 5 stars Opened my eyes
For years I wondered why TV satirists were so mean about Richard Branson. Was this just another example of the British 'tall poppy syndrome', hating success? Read more
Published 3 months ago by WontGetFooledAgain
5.0 out of 5 stars complete 100% Rubbish
why people who have achieved noting in there own lives go out and write stupid books about successful people is behind me, uses bransons name to sell the book
Published 3 months ago by DIY expert
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading
If you've ever been sucked in by the Branson myth like I have, then this is essential reading. I still hugely admire Branson and what he's achieved and I think he's done more to... Read more
Published 3 months ago by neilmk
4.0 out of 5 stars It's interesting, but almost getting towards bitchy
I read Bower's previous book "Branson" some time ago, and on seeing this new book was interested to read it. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Pete Storey
5.0 out of 5 stars Branson exposed
Fascinating expose of entrepreneur with much to alarm behind that famous smile and wooly jumper. A compelling and enjoyable read.
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
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